President to attend COP26 | Sunday Observer

President to attend COP26

17 October, 2021

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is expected to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) which will be held from October 31 to November 12, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.

It is understood that the Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Power Gamini Lokuge and Sri Lankan High Commissioner in London, Saroja Sirisena will accompany the President.

Invitations were sent to each United Nations member including President Rajapaksa, who will be one of 120 heads of state attending the conference. Queen Elizabeth II has already confirmed her attendance.

The COP26 summit aims to bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Tackling climate change has been a key agenda for many years, however, there has been very little progress, and the Covid-19 pandemic only further hindered any plans to take action. Scientists believe we are already too late to reverse the impacts of global warming, which is why collective action is needed urgently to build a sustainable future.

The importance of the COP26 summit is clearer than ever, for the past decade was recorded as the warmest decade in history. The major cause of global warming has been due to significant fossil fuel emissions produced by humans. Consequently, there has been an increase of extreme weather events such as heat waves, floods and forest fires.

In 2015, 200 countries pledged to cut emissions and signed a legally binding international treaty on climate change known as the Paris Agreement. Some of the key aims of the Paris Agreement include rich countries providing financial support to poorer nations to help adapt to climate change and keeping the increase in global temperatures lower than 1.5C.

The conference is expected to clarify the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement. Other agendas of the summit may include making a faster switch to electric cars, cutting down fewer trees and protecting more people from the impacts of climate change.

After Donald Trump, ex US President, elected to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, current US President Joe Biden pledged the return of the US to the Paris Agreement. Biden will be showing his commitment to combat climate change by joining his fellow world leaders, as well as over 20,000 accredited delegates at the summit.

To accommodate the sudden surge of summit goers in Glasgow, Scotland has reached a last minute agreement to bring a second cruise ship. Nearly 700 Scottish households have also signed up to the COP26 Homestay Network, an initiative to provide affordable or free accommodation to COP26 attendees.

At the end of the conference, each country will be required to sign some form of declaration which will include specific commitments. The UK will expect all countries to pledge their allegiance to make big reductions of emissions by 2030 and eventually reach net zero emissions by 2050.